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used to determine the authenticity of artifacts that compares the oxygen
isotopic composition of speleothems to the carbonate included within the patina
of unprovenanced artifacts is of questionable value. The unprovenanced Jehoash
Inscription Tablet and James Ossuary are of potentially immense historical and
cultural importance. Nevertheless, they
both were rejected by workers based on the oxygen isotope technique which provided the major foundational
evidence of forgery in the longest running archaeological trial in Israel.
Nevertheless, both these artifacts were determined not to be forged. The initial incongruence between the oxygen
isotopes of the speleothems of the Soreq cave (Israel) purported to represent
the unique composition of Jerusalem rainfall, and the patina on the artifacts,
can be readily explained by the accretion of materials and geo-biochemical
processes expected in normal patina formation in the Jerusalem region. The
patina formation involves sporadic events in disequilibrium kinetic processes
that are opposed to the equilibrium formation of
speleothems in a sealed cave. Moreover, 23 of 56 patina samples (41%) on well-documented
ancient artifacts from Israel yielded oxygen isotope values greater or lower
than the expected speleothem values of -4 δ18O ‰ [PDB] to -6 δ18O ‰ [PDB].
Thus, the speleothem-patina correlation is invalid and the applied oxygen
isotopes technique for determining the authenticity of patinas on artifacts is
not a useful tool in the authentication of artifacts.